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Childish Mistakes

, , , | Healthy | April 11, 2021

A few weeks ago, I had to have a hysterectomy. I have no children, never wanted children, and am almost too old to have them. Also, if I can now live my life free of period pains, I’m all for it. But I know that it is a sensitive issue for many women.

While wheeling me along to the operation, the male nurse asks:

Nurse #1: “Do you have kids?”

Me: “No.”

Nurse #1: “Me, neither. It is really sad. A life without children isn’t really worthwhile.”

Dude, don’t tell this to a woman about to have her womb taken out.

Later, when they take me for a scan, a nurse says:

Nurse #2: “So, you’ve just given birth, right?”

Me: “No. No, I haven’t.”

When I talked to my gynecologist, she was flabbergasted. And rightly so. I mean, it wasn’t a big deal for me. But really, maybe be more sensitive next time.

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A Sade Pleet With A Side Of Haggis

, , , , , , | Working | April 6, 2021

I’m from England. This was one of a string of temporary jobs I had while travelling a few years back. I’m selling people pies, sandwiches, and tea as normal when a lady in a nurse’s uniform asks me a question.

Nurse: “Can I have a sade pleet, please?”

Me: “A what?”

Nurse: “A sade pleet.”

I’m completely confused.

Me: “I beg your pardon?

Nurse: “A sade pleet!”

Me: “Er…”

I gesture at the array of food, drinks, and other assorted cafeteria-related items on the counter between us.

Me: “Ma’am, if you can see one on here, please grab one!”

The nurse picks up a small plate from a pile in front of me and shakes it.

Nurse: “A sade pleet! A SADE PLEET!”

It’s at this point that I finally twig that I’m listening to someone with a distinct Scottish accent, which I haven’t heard in some months and wasn’t expecting to hear at all while working in a hospital cafeteria in Australia. She’s asking if she can have a side plate. I laugh with some relief.

Me: “Beg pardon, ma’am, I wasn’t at all expecting to hear a Scottish accent here! Yes, of course, please take a plate, and sorry about that!”

Thankfully, she took it in good grace, headed off with her sade pleet, and, I hope, thoroughly enjoyed her break.

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Routine Ultra-Stupidity

, , , | Healthy | April 5, 2021

I am pregnant, and I’m sent for a routine ultrasound. I’m considered a low-risk, routine maternity case. The place where I’ve gone for ultrasounds in previous pregnancies is completely booked up, so when I go to schedule, they say they’ll just schedule me with the other ultrasound office in the building.

After I get the ultrasound, the bill arrives, and it is orders of magnitude higher than what it has been in the past… approximately nine times higher. My insurance company refuses to pay that amount of money, and it gets kicked back to me.

I call the insurance company and ask why they didn’t cover the ultrasound and am told that the ultrasound was billed as an ultrasound for a high-risk pregnancy but I am not a high-risk patient. So, I call the ultrasound office.

Me: “I’m trying to figure out a solution here. It seems that the ultrasound was billed as for a high-risk pregnancy, but I’m not a high-risk patient, so insurance rejected it.”

Clinic: “Oh, but that’s because we’re the high-risk office, so your doctor wanted a high-risk scan.”

Me: “I was sent to you because the other office was booked. They told me that you were covering their overflow because you had space.”

Clinic: “Yes, we agreed to alleviate some of their scheduling issues.”

Me: “So, you knew I wasn’t high-risk. Why did you do the high-risk scan?”

Clinic: “Oh, we didn’t do the high-risk scan because you aren’t a high-risk patient.”

Me: “So, why did you bill me for a high-risk scan?”

Clinic: “Because we’re specialists. We specialize in high-risk perinatal care.”

Me: “But you were just covering for the other office, right?”

Clinic: “Yes. But you can’t expect us to not be paid what we’re worth, can you?”

Me: “But you didn’t do the high-risk scan, right?”

Clinic: “No, but if we’d seen anything high-risk, we would have been able to tell you because we’re highly-trained. You have to pay for our higher training.”

Me: “So, if a surgeon who is capable of a kidney transplant gives you stitches, you should have to pay for a kidney transplant?”

Clinic: “You got a higher level of care here, so you have to pay for that higher level of care.”

Me: “I’m just lost for words here.”

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The True Cost Of Healthcare

, , , | Right | March 23, 2021

I work at the main desk at a VERY large hospital. I have a couple walk up to my desk.

Woman: “Hello, we need to find a patient’s room number.”

Me: “Not a problem! What’s the last name?”

I grab two visitor passes and a sharpie.

Woman: “[Patient].”

I quickly look up the room number and turn to write it on the visitor passes.

Me: “Okay, 431.”

I glance up to see that the couple’s eyes have gone wide and they are looking at me as if I have lost my mind.

Woman: “You… have to pay to visit someone?!”

Me: “Uh, no… it is room 431.” 

I motion to the visitor passes I have already written the room number on.

Woman: “Oh! Good! I don’t have no money!”

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Chaos, Panic, Relief

, , , , , | Healthy | March 20, 2021

I’m a student nurse out for a three-week practicum on a high-acuity hospital ward. Through sheer bad luck, during the first week us students are there, there are a lot of medical emergencies: cardiac arrests, patients found unconscious, comas, and vital sign measurements dangerously out of normal range. On one particular day, the emergency alarm goes off four different times, sending the whole staff running to help and sometimes taking hours to resolve with a whole team present.

Come 2:00 pm, we’re all frazzled and exhausted. Just as we sit down to write the notes for the shift of chaos, from behind the nurses’ station we hear a desperate cry: “Oh, my God, help me! Somebody help! [Nurse], help me!”

Once again, we all go running. A couple of the staff get there before me, and as they arrive on the scene I hear a crowd start laughing, as if someone has fallen for a prank, and the staff who ran to help look relieved and then disperse. I vaguely recall a passing comment I overheard at 7:00 this morning: there was going to be a CPR training happening that day that we had forgotten about because we knew we’d be too busy.

Mystery solved! All was well, everyone was safe! They’re just running a scenario!

Except the CPR training is being run by and for experienced hospital clinicians, and they are all extremely familiar with what a realistic medical emergency sounds like and aren’t afraid to show it.

They somehow manage to last for ten minutes with loud, dramatic, distressed hyperventilating, with the occasional, “Help me!” and, “Oh, no, she’s unconscious! What are you going to do?!” and, “Get help!” 

All the while, the rest of us are huddled down in the nursing station trying to write our notes and failing to tune out the sound of very realistic respiratory distress happening a few meters away.

For some reason, we don’t find that particularly calming after our adrenaline-filled day.

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